Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Australia v Ukraine Show

Well, that's that for another year. A change to the voting system is needed. That was wrong in many ways.

Here are the results:

Quite an extraordinary difference between the national juries and the public out there watching and voting. Look at Australia - a 9th place with the juries but placed bottom of everyone by the voters! Very weird and the only explanation I can come up with is that, as people in their own countries can't vote for themselves, there simply aren't enough Australians here in Europe to make much impact. Conversely, look at Ukraine ,for whom the almost exact opposite was true - placed bottom by the national juries but coming 7th in the public vote! 

Clearly, the mass of people from countries like Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova and the like who were not resident in their home countries and so could vote for them, has made a significant difference.

The other huge differences were for Denmark, 5th from the bottom with the juries, 5th from the top with the public, Sweden, 2nd with the juries, one up from 2nd bottom with the public! These are crazy figures and you really have to wonder whether that system can survive.

I did not see Austria doing so well but then nor did the public generally, placing them 13th. Italy and the Czech Republic each achieved really high public votes but for different reasons. The Czech vote was down to numbers of nationals in other countries as the performance was quite bland. Italy were passionate and maybe did manage to get through top more people than I had expected. Had Italy had the support of the juries then they would have been serious contenders for a win.

As it was, Netta takes the competition to Israel. They've won several times before and will do a good job of hosting the show but I do feel that after the classy Portuguese win in 2017 and several years without any 'statements' or 'hashtag' entries, we have taken a few steps back to the 1990s with just about everything associated with Toy.

Below is the text from my live blog on the night.

Ukraine. Not the best start to #Eurovision. Let’s look weird and set fire to the piano we were sleeping in. Never mind the singing bit. No chance . Bye bye.

Spain: Classic #Eurovision sugary romantic stuff. If you’re not into young people almost touching each other then go make some tea. Pretty little number but she’s not so great. I mean the song doesn’t win.

Slovenia. Surprising #Eurovision finalist - we reckon Mr & Mrs Trump had something to do with this. Cheerful stuff that you’ll forget almost instantly. No chance.

Lithuania. Now this is a little special. I can see her doing very well. Top 10. If the voters remember her after the other 20 #Eurovision songs. I hope they do. Nice.

Austria. This is another to forget. Austria should have entered the #MonaLisaTwins for #Eurovision.

Estonia. This is serious #Eurovision stuff. Best singer of the whole evening. Superb song but, yes, old-fashioned and so not so many votes. Still Top 10 material. The 2nd so far.

Norway. Everyone loves Rybak who won #Eurovision in 2009. Cheesy song but great confidence and presence on stage. Not win no.2 but maybe Top 10 and a lot more than nul points.

Portugal. Have to be polite as this is the #Eurovision host country. So best not to say anything. It’ll end soon and the strange girl will turn round eventually.

So far only two reasonable entries. Will there actually be ten in the #Eurovision Top 10?

United Kingdom. The #Eurovsion crowd like SuRie but it’s just not a song that people will be voting for. It probably only got 23 votes in the ‘You Decide’ show. We’ll not be bottom though. She is no Englebert.

Serbia. How on Earth did they get through to the #Eurovision final? Ethnics, dears. Ethnics. If they win whoever bet £10 will have £10,000 later tonight. And free cabbage for life.

Germany. At last. A good song. Only the third so far that deserves to have a chance of winning #Eurovision this year. Ed Sheeran could have been here for us but his mate does the German entry. My tip for No.2.

Albania. If you need a pee this is a good chance. You will miss absolutely nothing of interest with even a faint hope of winning #Eurovision. Another 1000-1 shit, I mean shot.

France. Mr & Mrs have a good #Eurovision entry. Sort of rolls along gently like the Common Linnets did a few years back which came 2nd. This should be Top 10 but I don’t see it winning.

Czech Republic. Before rehearsals this was tipped as a possible winner but has dropped out of the running with average live performances. Good to see the Czechs in #Eurovision but they’ll need to do better next time.

Denmark know how to do #Eurovision. Lets have wind and snow and blokes looking like Norsemen or whoever it was that sailed old ships years ago. Hairy blokes often get votes from public if not the juries. Good atmospheric stuff but that’s about all.

Australia. I’d love to see Jessica win #Eurovision. Great catchy song but she needs to get those low register bits right. Who put them in in the first place dammit? Otherwise she is lively, enthusiastic and the crowd love her. My favourite for No.1. If she gets it right.

We now have five possible Top 10 #Eurovision songs. Germany and Australia so far for the win.

Finland. Remember Saara Aalto in XFactor? Well here she is again. Upside down for no reason other than this is what some crazy people do in #Eurovision to get jury votes (technical difficulty!) She always gives her all but I see her finishing 11th. Sorry Saara.

Bulgaria. They’ve had several real challenges for the #Eurovision win recently but, with a bunch of people from mostly other countries and a boring song with annoying lyrics this is not good enough.

Moldova. Every #Eurovision needs Moldova. Looks and sounds like the 1970s. Good fun and quite clever but no-one will vote for it being clever. Some people will vote for it being fun, though so they could come higher than you’d expect. I say 6th.

Sweden. The Masters of #Eurovision had a contest bigger than #Eurovision itself to choose their entry. It’s a modern number but lacks something. You really cannot sing along to it. Try. But everyone loves Sweden and votes for them anyway so they’ll come 4th.

Hungary. This will wake up grandma. Be prepared for some heavy heavy stuff and most definitely not a song to sing along to. As the only track of even the vaguest interest to the head bangers it will get all their votes but no Top #Eurovision place this year. So far out there it has gone before it started.

Israel. For a long time the favourite and still a likely #Eurovision winner with many commentators. I don’t like it at all but, yes, it will make the Top 10 and maybe even Top 5. Unfortunately.

The Netherlands. Waylon wails on for #Eurovision. Yes you have seen him before. In the Common Linnets who came 2nd a while back. Same hat. Good singer but what is with those scary dancers?

Ireland. China did Ryan a favour by editing his performance and they got banned by the EBU and got him plenty of publicity. It’s a very average tune and a very average performance, to be honest and a bit too ‘obvious’ in trailing for the gay vote. They’ll do well though. Top 10 due to the #Eurovision furore, not the talent.

Cyprus. The current favourite by quite a margin. Very #Eurovision and Eleni can perform for sure. Yes, I can see it winning and it has to be Top 5 as pure modernish pop. I say 3rd.

Italy. Probably the best lyrics in the whole #Eurovision contest. Just as was the case last year, though, that’ll not be appreciated by many people at all and, unless they can really pull out a better performance than i rehearsals so far, it’s not Top 10. Good but not for the voters.

So I may be very very wrong but here’s to Australia, Germany, Cyprus, Sweden, Israel, Moldova, Ireland, Estonia, Lithuania and France this year’s #Eurovision Top 10. Maybe.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Eurovision: Now we see them, now they don't. Final predictions.

China may have done Ireland a huge favour by editing their broadcast of the first Semi Final. Rainbow flags were blurred and the two dancing guys were not shown so clearly for the poor Chinese viewers, the vast majority of whom probably wouldn't have got the significance of what was going on anyway. To be honest, I had no idea of what was going on until someone explained the song to me.

Anyway, the effect of Ryan not only getting through the Semi final with a far better live version than he had managed previously but also getting some handy publicity (as the European Broadcasting Unit have banned China from showing the whole final!) has been to drop his odds to around 10 as I write.

That would place Ireland 3rd but actually the impact of having them up there near the front could be to persuade voters who really would like to protest to do so more than they might have done. Ireland winning would be a huge sock in the jaw for those who control what Chinese people can see on their screens. So a win for Ireland, quite inconceivable yesterday, is on the cards.

Rehearsals are also under way and it will from these that the juries give their votes, not the actual Final. It seems that some people are doing really well whereas others are not, much as we found to be the case with the two Semi Finals.

With so many really quite awful entries in the second Semi Final, there was unlikely to be much problem for Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Moldova, The Netherlands and Ukraine, all of whom sailed through. The question was: which two of the others will make the Final?

The answer was Slovenia, who did make a good effort and probably had some help from Trump, and Serbia, who were very ethnic and that's about all I can say for their entry. For the first time since joining in, Russia did not qualify. No assistance from Trump was required either, with a simply dreadful effort by Yulya and her wailing backing singers. I had expected Romania to get through with a strong number but the singer's reputation for mischief may have acted against her with the juries who prefer the angelic android and no worrying images. Romania's entry was not sufficiently bland. Latvia, too, had a reasonably different entry and I wouldn't be surprised to discover that they were a close 11th.

So now we know the 26 who will compete tomorrow.

There are still clear no-hopers: Slovenia, Serbia, Albania, UK, Ukraine, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, Bulgaria.

There are those who would need something extraordinary to happen to encourage voters to vote for them in sufficient quantities: Spain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy and Hungary I put in this middle category. Spain could be too sugary but that could still work for those who haven't seen them before. Italy have the best lyrics but I doubt whether anyone will know. Great singers too. Hungary are just an extraordinary band. As the only heavy rock outfit they will get all the votes for those who like it. Denmark and Czech Republic have a lot of fans and may just produce something remarkable but I suspect not.

That still leaves a good number who could make it:

Being the favourite always helps but seldom comes true. This time, though, she is favourite because of her performance, not the preview video. Eleni will do a good job and looks like a certain Top Five.

Netta used to be the favourite and has never really faded away like almost everyone else has done at some point. Another pretty safe Top Five.

Totally unexpected, as I have said above. They've had that 'something extraordinary' so have to have that chance, I guess. My feeling, though, is that they'll miss out on the night.

A gentle song that sort of rolls along and professionally performed. But it is just a little uninspiring. Top 10 for sure but Top Five? I doubt it.

This lad has come up as a bit of a dark horse. Currently my pick to take the crown if he can really grab people's hearts and votes on the night. He has been vulnerable to cock-ups though and could still disappear out of the Top Ten.

I have backed this girl since the start. Quite a few others do now too. Another possible winner for me but she'd need to do something very special as she is near the start and may thus get forgotten, sadly. Top Ten, though.

Another possible winner now, down to sheer professionalism and the possible big youth vote he could attract. One of the few modern tracks this year. Not great, not highly memorable and it wouldn't go down as a classic winning song at all but on a strange, confusing night it could take it. Top Five likely.

Experience counts for a lot and Rybak is great. He hasn't been really getting across that well, though, so far, and his one-time top position in the odds has faded a lot. Ought to scrape in the Top Ten though.

On a night when no-one else seems predictable, one thing is sure and that is that this girl will impress a lot of viewers. Her position may not help much, though. Still a possible winner but more probably Top Five.

My favourite at the start but Jessica has not been performing well. Until the Semi Final when she did, almost, get her act together. She has the best personality of all of the acts and a superb song, apart from frustratingly low register starting bits. If she really, really tries and makes a connection with us all and also gets the right notes and stops bothering about the silly dancing moves, keeping things much simpler, then, yes, this could still be her big night. That'll annoy the bookies who have her at 100+.

So these are the Top 10.

Top Five: Australia | Estonia | Sweden | Israel | Cyprus


I really don't know. Oh, I forgot Moldova! Yes. Great entertainment! They'll do and we can all go back to the 1970s.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Eurovision: 1st Semi Final Expectations

After a very professional and attractive performance, Cyprus' Eleni has leapt from almost nowhere to become the favourite to win. She has produced really good rehearsal performances every time and is exciting to watch. Israel's Netta hasn't been quite on point when it mattered. At the last dress rehearsal the Eurovision Juries will have made their assessments and awarded points for the first Semi Final so those performances will have had an influence on who gets through.

I don't think anyone had doubted that Israel will get through, nor Cyprus, and I am expecting Netta to turn things around at the Final as I just reckon she will prove a lot more popular across the board. I am quite surprised that a quite old sort of Beyonce pop song has attracted so much punters' money and with acts going up and down like yo-yos this week everything could still turn out very differently to how the money suggests today.

Norway and Estonia are currently the only other two acts seen as having a chance of winning. Estonia is another Semi Final 1 contestant and I am confident that the opera track will get through safely. I still see that as the main contender of the four. Norway's entry is cheerful, well-presented and professionally sung but I just don't see a song that tells us how to write a song will make it. A good Top 5 candidate but not the No.1.

France, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Sweden have all been decidedly average so far. The Czech Republic is the one of these four that I can see making it. The others, competent as they may be simply don't inspire. Both Czech Republic and Bulgaria should also be safely through Semi Final 1 tonight.

After these acts, it is rather a collection of also-rans at the moment. Italy have a very impressive song with powerful lyrics but I don't think enough people will get it. Moldova should get through semi Final 1 and entertain us once more with their slightly naughty performance. they're my third contender to win at the moment but still low in most people's estimation at a massive 70-1!

Finland have stayed virtually static around the bottom of the Top 10 ever since things started. That is an achievement of sorts as plenty of acts much better fancied have fallen past them. Unfortunately, several have also improved over the weeks and it shows. I just reckon that Saara Aalto will put on a really great effort tonight and will ensure Finland get enough votes for effort alone to get through. She may be a winner but the track isn't.

Australia have almost fallen off the ladder as Jessica really never managed to bring the power and excitement that her video had. Such a shame as that was a good song and she seemed so enthusiastic at the start and we all thought she would be a major contender. Luckily, Semi Final 2 has so many terrible acts that Australia will make the Final with no problem so Jessica will have one last chance to change our minds. She will have one chance too to get the Juries on board and I have a feeling she will deliver. I don't write her off but, at 120-1 as I write, that would be one hell of a mighty recovery! As its stands, she'll be coming about where our Lucy Jones finished last year.

Greece have also disappointed massively and may even struggle to qualify. Little Lithuania, like Finland, appear to have held steady whilst all around were going up and down. I think they'll get through and I still see them as a long shot to grab people's hearts on the night.

Belgium, Belarus and Austria will be battling to get one of the last two or three places in the first Semi. None have made any impression on me at all and I am none too sure that one or more of them might even fall to countries like Ireland or even Azerbaijan. These two are way out in the odds but I'd never write either country off in Eurovision.

So my predictions at this stage as to who will get through are:

Israel | Cyprus | Estonia | Bulgaria | Czech Republic | Finland

Lithuania | Greece

Struggling - 2 to succeed from:
Ireland | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Austria | Belgium

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Eurovision: all change!

Rehearsals have been underway for three days now and seeing people doing their thing for real on the big stage as opposed to smart, edited recordings or small stage party performances has really made a difference.

Whilst Israel still remain clear favourite and their Netta did hold her place in her first performances, things have changed dramatically in the places beneath her.

The two major advances have been Norway and France, both of whom have produced superbly professional and relaxed rehearsals so far, streets ahead of many others. This inspires confidence and has pushed them to 2nd and 3rd places respectively. I think Norway will always do well with the lovely Rybak but this is not a winning song. Top 10, sure, but not a winner, so expect his odds to fall away again once some others - hopefully some others will - look a bit more like winners themselves.

France have a cool number that strolls along pleasantly and is quite engaging. It reminds me of a Dutch entry by the Common linnets a few years back. That did well and this will too but, again, it's Top 10 for sure but not a No. 1.

Bulgaria, previously Israel's main competition, faded away due to a drab and dreary performance. They may get the notes right with their very experienced individual singers (from nations other than Bulgaria) but something is lacking and that show won't appeal to voters as it stands.

The Czech Republic's singer fell down and has injured his back but we believe that he'll be back and he is determined to perform. He remains a good prospect but has lost his 3rd place, occasionally a 2nd place, and is now around the lower part of the Top 10.

Estonia have remained pretty constant throughout all this. Also competing for 2nd a couple of weeks ago they lost a lot of support when it was feared that the dress wouldn't be working. What nonsense. This superb singer doesn't need any gimmicks and I even think the emphasis on the dress thing has actually lost her some support. She has performed very reliably in rehearsals so far and is certain to make a first class job of things on the night. I can see her staying very much in contention when the enthusiasm for some other acts, currently showing more popularity, subsides.

Sweden have never been in the running really so far. They've been very much sitting on their own, well out of the leaders' range but also well in front of the rest. That has changed although I don't think they have done a rehearsal yet - they are just being assumed to be better than some who have not sounded good and have now risen to a predicted 7th place. Perhaps a really solid performance in next rehearsals could bring Sweden into contention after all. I doubt it. I think they've benefited from the jitters punters are feeling about some others.

The major disappointment so far has been Jessica for Australia. She had been up there with France and Norway, definitely in 2nd place or 3rd place most of the week but now falls away miserably, struggling to stay Top 10. She was just uninspiring, lost on the stage and the whole things imply didn't work. Some smart guys who know about these things have made some sound suggestions that she needs a party atmosphere up there; she needs a brighter, more cheerful staging and then she, with some company up there, can enthuse the audience again as she has shown she can do in closer encounters. I haven't given up on her as many punters appear to have done but she has a lot to do.

Saara Aalto also failed to build on great marketing and her own personality. Her performance was disappointing and seemed ridiculously complex and confusing. At one point she was tied to some wheel and had trouble freeing herself. She is also not a natural dancer and the moves interfered with her delivery. Both she and Jessica could be contenders to defeat the big girl from Israel but they'll have to work hard in their next performances to convince people. There will also soon be the performance for the juries which are crucial to get right as they actually count for votes!

Spain's two lovers have continued to hang around the 50-1 mark, as have Italy (now moving up to compete with Australia) and Belgium (dropping down).

Germany and Ukraine have shot up although I feel both are just  benefiting from good solid performances but these will not translate into votes or a better position in the end. They may have advanced but they're still only around 15th.

Greece has been another big disappointment so far. At one time she was really thought of as a contender to win but no more. Instead it will be Cyprus who carry the Greek voters' banner. Their entry is a feisty dancer and her performance will certainly be hot. She has attracted a lot of interest and her support has rocketed her from 'may just qualify' to a predicted Top 10 finish, overtaking Australia on the way. Personally, I don't think she will have the wide appeal she'll need and may drop back nearer the day. Whether Greece itself will revive I cannot say.

Moldova, as ever these days, entertain us and once more they have come from being 500-1 outsiders who may not even have qualified to a modestly brilliant 90-1 and I reckon they'll be there in the Final. If they are they'll do well. They just put a smile on people's faces and everyone gives them a few votes.

Hungary's heavy rock group look set to qualify and rehearsals went well. They can certainly fill the stage, no trouble. They could even be one to watch. Politics may stop them winning, though. They'll qualify, I am fairly sure and that will throw a few spanners in the works.

Despite very dull performances so far, the Netherlands and Denmark will get through, as will Russia, just, I think. Yulia has not been very good but she has done a lot better than the dreadful Russian performance which was the last we'd seen. She'll get the traditional support from friendly nations but not a great deal else.

Finally, the world may be waking up to little Lithuania's entry. They have been lying around in the 200-1 mark for weeks, ever since the betting started really. Finally, a nice rehearsal has shown that this girl is good and the simple song and presentation are worth watching and she has made it to nearer 100-1 and that, coupled with a poor effort by Belarus so far, has just made her 10th in her group. Whether she can hold that position and make the Final, though, is not certain. She'd have to overtake Belgium, Austria or Greece if Belarus recover. So her only hope is that Belarus don't recover.

This week has totally transformed the betting table but really I am not so sure it has changed the Top 10 that much. My feeling is that Jessica will recover and they'll fix stuff so she'll be Top 5 material again. As for challenges to Israel at this time, I can see none that are obvious. This year could be the year of a big surprise. Keep an eye on some of those that seem well out of it at the moment. And don't write off Finland just yet.

I even wonder whether Spain's lovers might not make a run for the top in the present market. Or Hungary to do a Finland of some years ago?

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